Whether a team is continuing remotely or they have begun to re-utilize office space,there are several challenges involved with making sure a team is staying productive and positive during a time of change. Uncertainty is often the cause of morale issues and a decrease in the quality of work. Both leaders and colleagues need to be conscious of their team members and be thinking of ways to keep them engaged and content with their work.
Measuring productivity and maintaining consistency is all about managing and setting expectations. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the future remains uncertain, expectations are becoming increasingly important. Founder and CEO of The Leaders’ Haven Cynthia Mills said that professionals are faced with a difficult challenge when it comes to expectations.
“We do have to balance hope with reality to make sure that from our present perspective we are positioned to thrive well and not positioned to be disappointed,” Mills said.
Especially in the case of a remote work scenario, it can be difficult to monitor progress, and it can be worrying to not know exactly what a team is doing. Mills said leaders must set expectations to bring organization to the remote work process.
“Make sure the people you are leading know what those expectations are so they can follow them. Don’t set them up to frustrate you,” Mills said.
Many professionals thrive in structure and in a world when predictability is difficult, setting up a structure is a form of care for colleagues and team members. Amanda Madrid, a associate director with Cushman & Wakefield, said her team created a schedule almost immediately.
“From the very beginning we established team meetings, and we also reached out individually to each person,” Madrid said.
When a team goes from being in a physical space together every day to being fragmented at home or in the office, the issue of trust becomes paramount. Leaders and team members may no longer know what their colleague’s schedules are and what they are working on. This can cause leaders to worry about productivity levels and for team members to consider overcompensating. Balance is imperative. Assuming the best out of either a boss or a team leads to balance and innately forces a professional to think positively about the other person. Mills said that it’s important to remember that everyone is in the same boat and that it is important to pay attention to patterns to get a sense of someone’s work ethic.
“Unless you have had some sort of evidence of lack of productivity that has been a consistent issue, going virtual doesn’t create that. Don’t allow yourself to fall into not assuming the best from your team,” Mills said.
Madrid also said that paying attention to her employee’s patterns was essential when leading the transition to remote work. She said it was important to look at her team as individuals and provide tools that fit each one of their situations.
“You can tell very quickly when someone starts to hide or remove themselves. It’s not intentional, it’s just that people can fall into that pattern,” Madrid said. “It’s important to pull them out of that and make them feel like a part of the team.”
If new patterns begin to emerge, assuming the best out of that person will allow leaders and team members to approach the situation with more understanding and sensitivity.
No matter the work situation, professionals’ calendars are different. Without team lunches, in-person meetings, or less onsite work. some team members may be feeling isolated or frustrated with the lack of connectivity that used to fill their day. Leaders need to work to provide community and engagement to their teams.
Madrid said that her team used meetings and care packages to simulate the community usually found in the office space. She said that it was important to make sure that everyone felt like they were still a part of a larger team.
“We had these wonderful town hall meetings every week and they were amazing,” Madrid said. “They gave great pieces of information about where we were headed as a company but also inspirational portions that helped morale.”
In a world fueled by technology and virtual meetings, it is important for a team to still find connection and unity. Reaching out and checking in with team members is a way to remind them that their interests are being looked out for. Showing off new crafts or sharing recipes can bring back the relationship-building aspect of a workplace.
“Part of what we need to find in this pandemic are those moments of humanity,” Mills said.
Work is different right now, and looking forward, it is going to continue to change. Taking care of a team and its members is about being adaptable and aligning the team’s wellbeing at the core of any strategy. This circumstance is not permanent, so find the balance of hope and reality and use this time to strengthen the team.
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